Historic Preservation

Preserving the Past, Planning for the Future

CMRPC is among the State’s leading community preservation planning and development experts. As an institution, we possess 60 years of interdisciplinary planning experience, including historic planning and the use land use, zoning, policy, and regulatory measures that are inseparable from such work. Our staff consists of top-tier planners and analysts who bring holistic and specialized knowledge of historic preservation to our breadth of planning initiatives.

Our Approach

CMRPC is adept at incorporating preservation into comprehensive planning efforts. In the past five years, CMRPC has completed numerous master plans, each containing a chapter dedicated to historical and cultural resources. These chapters are designed around community needs and priorities identified through robust outreach campaigns. They include a summary of community preferences, a historic resources inventory, a description of existing conditions, an analysis of issues and opportunities, and recommendations for achieving the community’s historical and cultural goals. Integrating historic preservation goals into broader land use and development plans has been instrumental in advancing such initiatives. We have taken a similar approach to town center plans and area studies.

CMRPC’s village center and downtown strategic plans are built upon strategies such as design guidelines, establishing local historic districts, preserving architectural character, and leveraging historical assets to spur economic growth. Between 2018 and 2023, we assisted with approximately 15 village center, downtown, or economic development strategic plans, including significant historic planning elements. CMRPC works on American Disability Act (ADA) plans and Community Block Grants. Here, too, strategies to preserve and improve the accessibility of historic public buildings are central. A reflection of our values and our emphasis on historic planning, CMRPC is a member and convener of the Central Mass Historical Commission Coalition. Our inputs have supported the Coalition’s efforts, helping preservation advocates explore current challenges and learn from successes in the field.

Zoning diagnostics and revisions are another avenue through which CMRPC advances historic preservation. In the past five years, CMRPC helped more than 10 towns create zoning bylaws to improve and protect their historic downtowns, town centers, or mills. Our efforts around mill preservation include historic mill overlay bylaws, marketing materials, and area plans. In 2022, CMRPC helped the Town of Warren secure a federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant for a mill redevelopment master plan, spurring interest and potential investment in the site. CMRPC is actively working with Warren, Dudley, and other communities on mill projects, adding to an existing portfolio of innovative historic planning and adaptive reuse projects.

Reimagining Main Street Uxbridge is among CMRPC’s noteworthy historic planning efforts. In 2021, CMRPC worked with the Town of Uxbridge to launch a planning project in collaboration with the Boston Architectural School (BAS). The initiative explored the strategic reuse of Uxbridge’s historic McCloskey Building and other municipal properties. The project team collected data and public input on the main street area, examined municipal assets, determined preferred reuse options, and provided market analysis. The project advanced adaptive reuse of the site, defining uses for an RFP, providing design concepts, identifying funding, and creating design guidelines. Similarly noteworthy is the North Brookfield Townhouse project. In 2018, CMRPC worked with the North Brookfield Townhouse Committee to assess the historic property for preservation and redevelopment potential. The effort was a key component of their successful downtown revitalization. In Uxbridge and North Brookfield, as well as many other cases, our familiarity with local, state, and federal historic preservation laws and regulations was crucial to successful outcomes.

CMRPC’s data and visualization services support our preservation and development planning. We collect and analyze data related to historic resources, such as architectural surveys, building conditions, and historical documentation. Our data services department provides GIS mapping, and our team includes landscape and traditional architects with deep historical planning and development experience. From asset maps and simple massings to detailed renderings, our visualizations bring to life design guidelines, master plans, ADA plans, and other visually oriented products.

Project Highlights

Learn more about the recent CMRPC historical preservation projects and initiatives.

Rutland Master Plan, Historical & Cultural Resources Chapter (2023)

In 2023, CMRPC completed an update of the Rutland Master Plan. The plan contains a Historical and Cultural Resources Chapter focused on ensuring that the town’s historic assets are prioritized and protected, especially when new developments arise. The chapter emphasizes strategies for Rutland to better protect its stories and heritage for the generations to come.

Mendon Master Plan, Historical & Cultural Resources Chapter (2023)

In 2023, CMRPC helped the Town of Mendon complete its first-ever master plan. The plan contains a Historical and Cultural Resources Chapter that highlights needs relating to the Mendon Center Historic District and the North Avenue Rural Historic District. The plan’s implementation guide recommends adaptive reuse, zoning, and improving community engagement capacity as strategies to ensure the protection of historical buildings and historical landscapes.

Boylston Master Plan, Historical & Cultural Resources Chapter (2022)

In 2022, CMRPC completed an update of the Boylston Master Plan. The plan contains a Historical and Cultural Resources Chapter that includes an inventory of existing historical properties, resources, and organizations as well as guidance on how to designate additional local historic districts and properties. After analyzing Boylston’s history and community engagement, the Master Plan recommends areas in need of restoration and strategies to preserve and maintain historical properties.

Hopedale Master Plan, Historical & Cultural Resources Chapter (2022)

In 2022, CMRPC helped the Town of Hopedale complete its first-ever master plan. The plan contains a Cultural and Historic Resources Chapter focused on creating additional Local Historic districts, educating property owners on the benefits of Preservation Restrictions, and utilizing Community Preservation funds. The Master Plan coordinates the efforts of various nonprofits and other groups to maintain the Town’s resources and preserve the history of Hopedale.

Holden Master Plan, Historical & Cultural Resources (2019)

In 2019, CMRPC completed an update of the Holden Master Plan. The plan contains a Historic and Cultural Resources Chapter that outlines goals for preserving and maintaining Town-owned and privately-owned historic assets and preserving the community’s rich heritage using protective regulatory tools in key areas. The chapter and implementation matrix outline strategies, resources, and funding sources for historical preservation goals.


Preservation Massachusetts educates and empowers people to preserve and reuse historic resources that are important to them and their community. Additionally, the organization provides grants that fund portions of historical preservation projects.

Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) works closely with local preservation groups. The MHC provides technical services, grants, virtual educational workshops, and access to the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Informational System (MACRIS).

Municipalities and governmental entities are allowed to contract directly with CMRPC in accordance with MGL Chapter 30B Sections 1 (b) (3) and (b) (9). Contract with CMRPC, contact CMRPC’s Executive Director, Janet Pierce at jpierce@cmrpc.org

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